I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Monday, 30 September 2013

miscellany: duck breast prosciutto

In a word: yum.

I love prosciutto. So when I happened across a recipe for duck breast prosciutto in a magazine, and - hey! - we had ducks aplenty, I decided it had to be tried. And I am so, so glad I did.

Prosciutto, bought in the store, is pork - the word in Italian, according to google translate, means "ham". Further research (you don't think I make these blogs up, do you? No, they are meticulously researched, often by asking my dog. Titus is a wealth of information. Though in this case he just looked at me and whined for some of what I was making. But I digress) suggests the word refers to the dry curing process of making prosciutto. It's typically ham that is dry-cured, then served raw.

It's ridiculously simple, only requiring two things I often lack: patience, and space in the fridge.
This takes so much salt it's just silly. And it's all thrown out.
Duck breast - I used four halves from this year's eleven ducks - entombed in kosher salt for 24 hours. That's it. Salt and duck. See? I said ridiculously simple.

          Burying the duck in salt.
Aaaand... it's gone.

After its salt bath, the duck was rinsed well, patted dry, then covered in freshly-ground black pepper. 

After salting, rinsed off to dry.

How much? Basically, you cover it with pepper until you think you have enough, and then add some more. Because it's good.

Then each duck breast was wrapped up in cheesecloth, bundled and wrapped again, then trussed with string to hang in the fridge for two weeks. Yes, two weeks of needing space in my fridge for some meat to hang.
Wrapping up into duck breast mummies.
waiting... waiting... waiting...

Thank goodness for the second fridge. True prosciutto often ages for 18 months or more. I'd never make it, waiting so long.

But worth it? Oh yes.

Final product.
Today the meat was cut down, unwrapped, and sliced as thinly as I could. The drying concentrates the flavour of an already tasty meat. The rich red of the meat and creamy white of the skin are a lovely contrast. It is decadent. I repeat: yum.

How to use this loveliness? There are so many ways. My favourite is to just eat the stuff. 

But it's a wonderful appetizer with baguette slices and some cheese. It's delicious cut up, sauteed, and added to pastas or Caesar salad. If it can be very thinly sliced, it is lovely wrapped around blanched asparagus. Or, you could just eat it. Which I did.

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